- Texas regulators ordered utility El Paso Electric (EPE) to re-issue its notice of a proposed $37 million rate increase to help cover some $1.3 billion in infrastructure, which includes an $11 monthly surcharge for distributed generation owners, KFOXTV.com reports.
- The proposed rate increase had drawn fire from several stakeholders last year, including the Texas city El Paso residents and city council, but most parties came to a settlement agreement outlining interim rates to be implemented April 1 of this year to collect the requested $37 million increase. The agreement did not include the proposed solar surcharge.
- Solar installers in El Paso reported the proposed surcharge has threatened their solar value proposition and, subsequently, slowed sales.
Texas rooftop solar customers are now pushing back against a rate case seeking to implement a monthly surcharge, which EPE claims will address the cost-shift issue. Utilities nationwide argue distributed solar users don't pay their fair share to maintain the grid, shifting the maintenence costs on non-rooftop solar users.
Robert Moss, a solar panel owner told KFOXTV that "I don't think the utility company is doing this to punish, but it does create a disincentive."
This is EPE's first rate increase since 2010, and intends to cover $1.3 billion in generation and distribution system assets added since 2009. The case is now in the hands of adminstrative law judges to decide the next step, an EPE spokesman told the news outlet, "but we should know by mid-June what the next part for the case will be."
Under the proposed plan, EPE distributed generation owners would receive a $0.01375/kWh credit toward their kWh consumption from EPE to offset the monthly minimum bill surcharge. A customer’s 400 kWh/month usage would reduce the surcharge to $5.50.
The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission also rejected the 2015 filing, but will make a final ruling on the revised proposal next week, according to EPE Public Affairs Manager George De La Torre.
Correction: A previous version of this headline said "El Paso Electric to re-issue $37M rate increase request." That is incorrect. El Paso Electric was directed to re-issue a notice of its rate increase request.